WACSI Rolls Out First Ever Course on Social Accountability for CSOs in Liberia – 296 CSO Reps Benefit

WACSI Rolls Out First Ever Course on Social Accountability for CSOs in Liberia – 296 CSO Reps Benefit

In West Africa, state institutions and public service delivery are still very fragile, inefficient and not meeting the expectations of community citizens. In many countries, public institutions are progressively being strengthened, with most countries steadily shifting away from humanitarian governance a by-product of years of conflict. This has initiated a change of paradigm that calls for a need to nurture national and sub-national CSOs capacities to engage in the promotion of good governance, human rights, (specifically women’s rights) and development at large through citizen-led accountability mechanisms,” Charles Vandyck, Head, Capacity Development Unit, (West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI).

This assertion, according to Vandyck, justifies the existence of the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). It provides a synoptic rationale for the work the Institute does. Since its establishment in 2005, the West Africa civil society Institute (WACSI) has trained many CSOs across the ECOWAS sub-region and the world at large. Making its legitimacy unparalleled. in view of this, foreign agencies and most actors within the civil society ecosystem sees the need to associate and partner with WACSI.

This goodwill attracted the Development Education Network-Liberia (DEN-L) with the Support of the UN Women, the Spotlight Initiative in collaboration with the EU to contract WACSI to deliver a social accountability training workshop for 296 representatives of civil society organisations (CSOs) across five counties in Liberia. The training was organised from 10 October 2020 through the 8 November 2020. In each county, the training lasted for three days. It sought to respond to the capacity challenges organisations face in driving the citizen accountability processes within their respective communities and counties.

According to Vandyck, “the development of a training curriculum and course on social accountability provides an opportunity for CSOs to deepen their knowledge of social accountability concepts tools, strategies, develop capacities to effectively implement social accountability initiatives and create a community of practice which is an avenue for sharing best practices through periodic peer learning and exchange among citizens groups in the region.”

The workshop on social accountability for CSOs in Liberia brought together organisations from five counties across the country: including Montserrado, Grand Cape Mount, Nimba, Lofa and Grand Gedeh. The facilitation team was led by Charles Kojo Vandyck, Head of the Capacity Development Unit at WACSI, and he was ably supported by Gervin Chanase the Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Programmes Officer at WACSI. They made sure all the facilitation approaches used were inclusive and participatory enough, a characteristic of WACSI’s principal standard: where all participants are given equal opportunities to contribute to the learning and sharing process.“WACSI embraces a bottom-up approach to strengthening civil society and this development fits perfectly with our convictions and vision for active citizenship within the region”, Vandyck admits.

The primary objectives of the training were to; (i)enhance the skills of the CSOs to implement innovative social accountability initiatives in their respective communities, (ii) reinforce the CSOs’ effective engagement in promoting social accountability in Liberia, and (iii) influence the CSOs to initiate a community of practice of social accountability practitioners, advocates, and champions in Liberia. The training workshop was divided into 7 sessions covering the following key areas: Introduction to Rights-Based Approach and Social Accountability, Participatory Planning and Decision Making, Budget Monitoring, and Development Outcomes Monitoring & Action Planning.

Each training per county benefitted large groups of about 60 participants per county. Although this had its own peculiar challenges in sustaining attention and facilitating learning throughout the training, participants found the training to be worthwhile.

A participant from Grand Cape Mount county commended the facilitators and said, “my impression about the training’s delivery is good based on how the presenter presented the lessons to the participants. After every topic, he asked participants for feedback about the lesson. I, therefore, congratulate the trainers and I wish the training continues’’.

Another gratified representative from the Lofa county expressed his heartfelt gratitude.” The training was very good, and I am well impressed to have a full understanding of social accountability. Congratulations to the WACSI team for such a timely training’’, he said.

This is the first training on Social Accountability being delivered by WACSI. The Institute has a longstanding reputation for documenting social accountability engagements of civil society actors in West Africa. These were published in the Social Accountability Guidebook volume 1 and volume 2 with support from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), Hewlett Foundation and Ford Foundation.

Translating the content of the Guidebook into hands-on training for the benefit of CSOs is a significant milestone for WACSI. “The development of a guidebook and the subsequent development of a training curriculum and course on social accountability provides an opportunity for CSOs to deepen their knowledge of social accountability…”, Vandyck says.

“This is an important milestone for WACSI. It was an opportunity to test and utilise the experiences and approaches that were documented in the two editions of the social accountability guidebook. Social accountability is a key component of WACSI’s resilience and sustainability work. This is essential because it provides an opportunity for the Institute to work with grassroots groups, networks and have a deeper understanding of governance at the sub-national context within the region,” he concludes.

In West Africa, state institutions and public service delivery are still very fragile, inefficient and not meeting the expectations of community citizens. In many countries, public institutions are progressively being strengthened, with most countries steadily shifting away from humanitarian governance a by-product of years of conflict. This has initiated a change of paradigm that calls for a need to nurture national and sub-national CSOs capacities to engage in the promotion of good governance, human rights, (specifically women’s rights) and development at large through citizen-led accountability mechanisms.
Therefore, the development of a guidebook and the subsequent development of a training curriculum and course on social accountability provides an opportunity for CSOs to deepen their knowledge of social accountability concepts tools, strategies, develop capacities to effectively implement social accountability initiatives and create a community of practice which is an avenue for sharing best practices through periodic peer learning and exchange among citizens groups in the region.

This is an important milestone for WACSI. It was an opportunity to test and utilise the experiences and approaches that were documented in the two editions of the social accountability guidebook. Social accountability is a key component of WACSI’s resilience and sustainability work. This is essential because it provides an opportunity for the Institute to work with grassroots groups, networks and have a deeper understanding of governance at the sub-national context within the region. WACSI embraces a bottom-up approach to strengthening civil society and this development fits perfectly with our convictions and vision for the active citizenship within the region.

About the author

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Robert Oppong is a Ghanaian. He holds Bachelor of Arts in Communication with a speciality in Development Communication. He is a gender and a social activist with great knowledge in participatory communication, international governance and development.

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Robert Oppong

Robert Oppong is a Ghanaian. He holds Bachelor of Arts in Communication with a speciality in Development Communication. He is a gender and a social activist with great knowledge in participatory communication, international governance and development.

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